Actor Sues Producer Alleging Race Discrimination Featured

  17 February 2017

On September 4, 2013, Pierre Daniel (Daniel), an actor, worked as an extra in a movie entitled, A Haunted House 2 (Open Road Films 2014). 

Marlon Wayans (Wayans) co-wrote, produced, and starred in the movie.  Subsequently, Daniel sued Wayans and others, alleging, that he was the victim of racial harassment because during his one day of work on the movie he was compared to a Black cartoon character and called “ ‘[n]igga.’ ”  In response, Wayans, pursuant to moved to strike Daniel’s claims against him as a SLAPP suit (strategic lawsuit against public participation), arguing that all of Daniel’s claims arose from Wayans’s constitutional right of free speech because the core injury-producing conduct arose out of the creation of the movie and its promotion over the Internet.  The trial court agreed with Wayans and also found that Daniel had failed to establish the probability that he would prevail on any of his claims against Wayans.  As a result, judgment was in favor of Wayans and he was awarded his attorney fees. Daniel appealed arguing that the trial court erred with regard to its determination of the primary issue in Wayans’s anti-SLAPP motion—that is, the conduct at issue was not part of the “ ‘creative process’ ” inherent in making the movie because it occurred when the cameras were not rolling and, as a result, did not involve the right of free speech or an issue of public interest.  In the alternative, Daniel contended that even if the conduct at issue implicated Wayans’s right to free speech, he presented sufficient evidence to the trial court to establish a probability of prevailing.  The court of appeal disagreed, affirming the judgment. Read more here.